Russia Ukraine conflict

Russia’s attack on Odesa city kills two, injures 22, damages city’s largest cathedral

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A Russian air attack on Ukraine’s Odesa city early on Sunday killed two, injured nearly 22 and badly damaged a Russian-linked Orthodox cathedral, with officials saying they retrieved the icon of the patroness of the port city from under the rubble.

“Odesa: another night attack of the monsters,” Oleh Kiper, governor of southern Ukraine’s Odesa region, said on the
Telegram messaging app.

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Two people were killed and 22 injured, including four children, in the missile attacks that also destroyed six houses and apartment buildings. Fourteen people were hospitalized, he said.

Russia has been pounding Odesa and other Ukrainian food ex-port facilities nearly daily over the past week after it withdrew from a UN-brokered sea corridor agreement that allowed for the safe shipment of Ukrainian grain.

Odesa’s military administration said that the Spaso-Preobrazhenskyi Cathedral of the Moscow-linked Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC), was severely damaged.

“The Kasperovska icon of the Mother of God, who is the patroness of Odesa, was retrieved from under the rubble,” the administration said on its Telegram channel.

The Spaso-Preobrazhenskyi Cathedral, or the Transfiguration Cathedral, is Odesa’s largest Orthodox church building. It was consecrated in 1809.

Photos and videos published by Odesa officials and the police showed parts of the building destroyed and rubble inside with several icons lined up on the ground.

The UOC is Ukraine’s second-largest church, though most Ukrainian Orthodox believers belong to a separate branch of the faith formed four years ago by uniting branches independent of Russian authority.

Ukraine has accused the UOC of maintaining links to the pro-invasion Russian Orthodox Church, which used to be its parent church but with which the UOC says it broke ties in May last year.

Reuters could not immediately independently verify the video or the reports of the damage. There was no immediate comment from Russia.

Ukraine’s air force said on its Telegram messaging app early on Sunday that Russia launched high-precision Onyx missiles and sea-to-shore Kalibr cruise missiles on Odesa.

The city’s military administration said that air defense systems destroyed a “significant part” of the missiles, which they said included Iskander ballistic missiles.

Russia had described the attacks as revenge for a Ukrainian strike on a Russian-built bridge to Crimea -- the Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula that Russia seized in 2014. It has accused Ukraine of using the sea corridor to launch “terrorist attacks.”

Social media videos showed a distressed man walking inside the dark cathedral repeating, “The church is no longer .... Lord, have mercy.”

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